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June, 2012 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

June, 2012

  • Education

    What does the Cloud do in education, as well as create jobs?

    • 1 Comments

    According to an IDC study “Cloud Computing & Worldwide Job Creation”, it’s forecast that nearly 14 million new jobs will have been created worldwide by cloud services around the world. In Australia, it’s forecast that cloud-related jobs are going to grow 129% between 2012 and 2015. And education is one of the fastest growing markets for jobs created by Cloud services (see Table 1 in the report) – with a compound annual growth rate of 29% to 2015.Windows Azure in Education

    Maybe that’s why, in a new Windows Azure infographic above, it’s an example from the use of Cloud in education that’s put front and centre. The three examples it gives of game-changing use of the Cloud infrastructure are:

    • Harvey Norman, using Windows Azure to scale to almost instantly cope with a 1,850% spike in web traffic
    • Curtin University, using Windows Azure to perform complex genome sequencing in hours, not weeks
    • Pixel Pandemic, using Windows Azure to support 10 million monthly page views, and 300,000 global gamers

    I had two thoughts from reading this:

    1. Education continues to lead the world in innovative use of new technologies
    2. It’s a good example of today’s technology students needing new skills for tomorrow’s world
  • Education

    Deadline for Microsoft Australian Partner Awards extended by a day

    • 0 Comments

    Already entered? Then, this is for you:

    Look, I know it’s a holiday weekend for most of you. And you’ve got better things to be doing (like getting home to see your family). But if there’s one thing to do before you log off tonight, you should hit ‘Submit’ on your APC Award entry. I’ve just looked at the report, and one third of the entries for Education Partner of the Year are sitting at ‘Draft’ rather than ‘Submitted Status’. Don’t forget to hit submit. Thanks. Have a great weekend.

    Not yet entered? Then this is for you:

    C’mon, you’ve now got an extra day to enter to win Australian Education Partner of the Year. The deadline’s extended to end of the day on Tuesday 12th (so, if you’re in NSW/QLD/VIC/TAS/NT etc, no, you don’t have to spend the Queen’s Birthday typing your entry. And if you're in WA, you've got an extra working day to polish your entry). And just imagine how good you’ll feel if you’re hopping up on the stage with hundreds of other Microsoft partners applauding you on. Find out how to enter here, and don’t forget to read my hints and tips to creating a winning APC Awards entry.

    Have a good weekend…and look forward to seeing you at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 4 September.

  • Education

    Grab a ticket to the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Sydney

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    Imagine Cup Header 

       
    Attending the Australian finals of the Imagine Cup has been one of the highlights of my year so far, as it gave me an insight into some amazing projects created by university students around the country (the winning Australian team from The University of Melbourne  designed an early pneumonia diagnosis kit) . And next month, Australia plays hosts to the worldwide Imagine Cup finals, with student teams from 107 countries around the world competing to be crowned as global champions. There is no doubt in my mind that some of the ideas we’ll see there will become worldwide phenomena, and the contestants will be fought over by employers in the next two years.

    How would you like to be able to say “I was there, and saw that idea before most other people”?

    Whether you are in the IT industry, or you’re a teacher and you want to come along with a couple of your high-flying students, or you’re just interested in what’s happening, then the invite is open to all.

    Here’s the official blurb:

      Join us for a celebration of incredible ideas and innovation at the Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide 2012 Finals. The finals bring together over 400 of the most talented students from 107 countries to showcase their world-changing solutions and to compete for the worldwide title.

    To be part of a celebration like no other, Microsoft would be delighted if you would be our guest at The World Festival - where we’ll find out who has triumphed to win, plus a whole lot more. You’re also welcome to arrive early and meet all of our students and mentors at The Imagine Cup Showcase and hear the motivations behind their amazing ideas.
     

    The Imagine Cup World Festival & Showcase

    TUESDAY 10th July 2012
    Where: Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour
    The Showcase: 2pm – 4pm
    (you can book for a specific 30 minute session between 2 and 4)

    The World Festival: 4pm – 6.30pm |

    Spaces are limited. Reserve your complimentary ticket here.

    image

  • Education

    Another free technical ebook for Kindle and PDF – Windows Server 2012

    • 1 Comments

    Introducing Windows Server 2012 Front CoverThe Microsoft Press team have just released another free ebook, with downloadable versions of Introducing Windows Server 2012 ebook. This is a technical ebook – it’s not for the average user, but if you want to understand what’s new in Windows Server 2012, it’s a good way of getting up to speed.

    It’s available in a variety of formats:

    This is a full Microsoft Press book, not just a summary (at 235 pages, it’s a serious read), and includes an overview of the changing business needs that Windows Server 2012 is responding to (such as the widespread use of private and public cloud services), and sections on building a foundation for private cloud, high-availability services, deploying web applications and enabling a modern workstyle.

    I think one of the key sections that will really interest educational readers is Chapter 5, which dives into the ‘modern workstyle’, which directly addresses some of the key trends in education - such as access to corporate systems from virtually anywhere as well as the trend to allowing BYOD in education (whether that’s students or staff bringing their own devices).

    On page 188 onwards, there’s a lot of detail on Direct Access, which has many applications within education, such as the ability to allow access to your network whilst users are away from campus, without adding expensive or intrusive VPN systems. And some education users have used it to reroute students’ Internet traffic through their school’s filtered internet connection even when they are off campus (again, without adding expensive third party systems). Here’s some info on what it can do, taken straight from the book:

     

    Simplified DirectAccess
    If remote client devices can be always connected, users can work more productively. Devices that are always connected are also more easily managed, which helps improve compliance  and reduce support costs. DirectAccess, first introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 and supported by client devices running Windows 7, helps address these needs by giving users  the experience of being seamlessly connected to their corporate network whenever they have  Internet access. DirectAccess does this by allowing users to access corpnet resources such as  shared folders, websites, and applications remotely, in a secure manner, without the need  of first establishing a VPN connection. DirectAccess does this by automatically establishing bidirectional connectivity between the user’s device and the corporate network every time  the user’s device connects to the Internet.

    DirectAccess alleviates the frustration that remote users often experience when using traditional VPNs. For example, connecting to a VPN usually takes several steps, during which the user needs to wait for authentication to occur. And if the corporate network has Network Access Protection (NAP) implemented for checking the health of computers before allowing them to connect to the corporate network, establishing a VPN connection could sometimes take several minutes or longer depending on the remediation require, or the length of time of the user’s last established the VPN connection. VPN connections can also be problematic for environments that filter out VPN traffic, and Internet performance can be slow for the user if both intranet and Internet traffic route through the VPN connection. Finally, any time users lose their Internet connection, they have to re-establish the connection from scratch.

    DirectAccess solves all these problems. For example, unlike a traditional VPN connection, DirectAccess connectivity is established even before users log on so that they never have to think about connecting resources on the corporate network or waiting for a health check to complete. DirectAccess can also separate intranet traffic from Internet traffic to reduce unnecessary traffic on the corporate network. Because communications to the Internet do not have to travel to the corporate network and back to the Internet, as they typically do when using a traditional VPN connection, DirectAccess does not slow down Internet access for users.

    Finally, DirectAccess allows administrators to manage remote computers outside the office even when the computers are not connected via a VPN. This also means that remote computers are always fully managed by Group Policy, which helps ensure that they are secure at all times.

     

    The chapter goes on to describe the enhancements to DirectAccess in Windows Server 2012, such as the ability to have DirectAccess servers and clients on different domains, which will be useful for many education users (especially universities with peripatetic staff) and the enhanced support for two-factor authentication when you’re using third-party security vendors.

    Learn MoreFind out about other free technical ebooks from Microsoft Press

  • Education

    Who’s office. Ours. In Austria

    • 2 Comments

    Darn, I moved to the wrong country. How nice would it be to work in the Microsoft Austria office?

    Our office in Sydney is a very, very nice place to work – the open plan, activity based working layout setup is brilliant (It’s about what you do, not where you do it). But I will admit to a hint of envy when I saw the slideshow on the Innocad website, when I saw what they’d done at our Vienna offices. An open plan meeting area with a slide. Meeting rooms with personality.

    Microsoft Austria's slide in the office

    Click on the image below for a look around

    image

    Probably a good time to mention that we’ve just been named Australia’s Best Employer 2012?

  • Education

    Learning from classroom innovations

    • 0 Comments

    Richard Ryan, Ray Fleming, and the Other RayMy colleague Richard Ryan (in the pic, he’s the one on the left of me and the Other Ray) is responsible for extending the Australian Partners in Learning programme – which is all about creating an Australian community as part of a global network of teachers sharing good practice and innovative ideas. The Partners In Learning programme now covers 114 countries, and since it was started here in 2004 it’s trained over 250,000 teachers, students and leaders across Australia since then. Jane Mackarell runs the programme in Australia, and she’s given Richard the task of finding ways to share more of the work of the programme with teachers across more schools (up to now much of the development work has focused on working very deeply with a smaller number of government schools in each state).

    Richard’s also started blog writing for teachers and school leaders, and so far he’s notched up a weekly blog post for the last three months. So if you’re looking for some interesting classroom-centric ideas, then can I recommend that you follow Richard’s writing over on his Innovative Education blog.

    For an idea of the types of content, his top 5 blog posts so far have been:

    Learn MoreRead the Innovative Education blog

  • Education

    Free Windows 8 programming ebook

    • 0 Comments

    Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScriptThose nice people at Microsoft Press have done it again – another new free ebook for everybody. And this one is perfectly timed – it’s a preview version of “Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript”.

    It’s the perfect guide to programming Windows 8 applications, and gives you the whole story for creating Windows 8 Metro apps. As it’s only the preview version, the whole thing isn’t yet there – just the first four chapters:

    • The life story of a Metro Style App
    • Quickstart
    • App Anatomy and Page Navigation
    • Controls, Control Styling, and Basic Data Binding

    And the further 14 chapters will come out over the next few months. But if you’re interested in getting started, or you’ve got students that you know will want to have a go, then this is a good start.

    You can either download it in PDF directly, or go and read a bit more about it on the Microsoft Press blog.

    And if you want to know why it’s worth thinking about Windows 8 app development, Daniel Sharp’s got some interesting thoughts over on The Kernel in “Windows 8 is an Android killer

    Bonus: Here’s a long list of more free technical ebooks from Microsoft Press.

  • Education

    Is this the end for interactive whiteboards in the classroom?

    • 0 Comments

    Over the last few weeks, 11 startups have begun work on some amazing projects using the Kinect for Windows system, and developing new ways to interface with information, games, devices and computers. You can read more about this, and the background to the projects, on the Next at Microsoft blog.

    Steve Clayton, who is like a roving reporter on the Microsoft Campus these days, went along to see some of their projects, and one of them made me sit up and slap my forehead. Up and down the country we’ve got teams of installers screwing interactive whiteboards to classroom walls. But why should it only be some walls that are interactive? And why should it only be limited to the size of the whiteboard?

    Take a look at this shot from their video to see what one team has done with Kinect for Windows…

    Replacing interactive whiteboard with 'interactive anything'

    Basically, they’ve made any surface interactive – In this case, a curved wall. You can read more about this whole project, and see the videos, over on the Next at Microsoft blog, and then start to imagine what’s going to happen in classrooms, sports halls and assembly halls, when Kinect for Windows takes off in education

  • Education

    Windows 8 Briefing for Education Partners

    • 0 Comments

    Microsoft EBC SydneyOn the 7th and 8th June we are hosting a limited number of briefings in Sydney on Windows 8 for our key Australian Microsoft Education partners. Hopefully you have already had the chance to use Windows 8, or see some of the videos of Windows 8.

    Built on the solid foundation of Windows 7, Windows 8 helps businesses unleash the full power of their people while meeting modern users’ expectations of technology. With seamless connections to people and information, full-screen immersive applications, and built-in malware resistance, strong authentication, and data encryption, Windows 8 provides a great user experience along with a more secure and manageable platform.  In this session we'll look at the specific investments we are making with Windows 8:  devices and experiences users love; new possibilities in mobile productivity; enhanced end-to-end security and virtualisation advancement.

    The briefings will provide an insight into some of these areas, and will help to provide you with unique insight for use in your customer conversations. And the small group size – a maximum of 12-15 people – will mean that you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions.

    I wanted to offer you an opportunity to book a place to attend one of these briefings at our Sydney Executive Briefing Centre in North Ryde, on either the 7th or 8th June. If you’d like to attend one of these sessions, please use the link below to book your place.

    Thursday, 7 June

    Session 1 - 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

    Session 2 - 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

    Friday, 8 June

    Session 2 - 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

    This invitation is specifically for Microsoft Education Partners in Australia*. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

    * If you don’t qualify, don’t worry – you’ll be hearing lots more about Windows 8 soon, or you could download and try out the new Release Preview of Windows 8 for yourself Smile

  • Education

    How to use keywords to recruit students

    • 0 Comments

    Late last year, I ran some workshops for some Microsoft education partners, focusing on reaching more customers through blogging and other online engagement (for many, the reality is that their potential customers simply don’t know that they are there, and what services they offer).

    One of the areas that I spent quite a bit of time on was keywords – the words or phrases that you want to be discovered by when people search on Google and Bing - either in the search results, or in the adverts.  This is as important to student recruiters as it is to our Microsoft partners. And keywords used effectively can also be a great way of getting free advertising.

    Whilst there are some technical tips to getting this right, one of the most important aspects is to ensure that you are using the same language as your audience. For example, people don’t search on the internet for “books at no cost”, they search for “free books”. Once you start to think about people searching the internet, you can end up making much more findable content, because you can focus on the question “What would I put in the search box to find it?”.

    For example, the top six phrases that people type into Google and Bing, and then click through to this blog, are:

    1. Jobs of the future
    2. How to use OneNote on iPad
    3. Office 365 for education
    4. Using OneNote on iPad
    5. Best SharePoint sites
    6. Bring Your Own Device school

    They are all real phrases that real people would use, rather than dry technical terms that often normally appear on a technology blog.

    If you want to recruit students, it isn’t just about having the best student recruitment CRM system. It’s about having enough students coming in at the top of the marketing funnel too. I’ve noticed that in Australia, a lot of money is spent on billboard advertising for universities and TAFEs, but with a general squeeze on funding, I’m sure we’ll continue to see a move to online advertising.

    There’s a great article on .eduGuru about the four factors for a successful online advertising campaign, and factor one is all about keywords. It’s written by Mike Cready, a Web & Social Media Strategist at Lethbridge College, so it comes with good practical experience. Here’s his take on keywords:

     

    Ensuring you select keywords that target the right people looking for your products is critical.

    Blanketing all related keywords or “spraying & praying” is a poor practice that may generate many clicks and easily spend your ad budget, but will not yield conversions or leads. At one point we used an external consultant to develop our Google Ads campaigns.  They took the “spray & pray” approach with our keywords.  For example, one of our academic programs is heavy equipment technician. Some of the keywords they targeted were “heavy equipment rentals” and “heavy equipment sales.”  Shortly after, I removed all unrelated keywords and focused on keywords that included terms like “diploma”, “degree”, “certification”, “education”, etc. After revising all the keywords, we saw a 46% decrease in our  ad spend and a 5% increase in lead generations.

     

    He goes on to give you direct advice about how to choose the right keywords, target the right audience and, critically, make sure that the webpage your advert goes to is doing the right job.

    Learn MoreRead Mike's full article on .eduguru

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